The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Clarke, Rev. George

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Clarke, Rev. George, son of George Clarke, of Wyndham, Norfolk, England, and Martha his wife (née Blomfield), was born at Parramatta, N.S.W., in the year 1823. His father was one of the first missionaries sent out to New Zealand by the Church Missionary Society; and in 1824 the family proceeded to the Bay of Islands and took up their residence at Waimate, the principal missionary station. At an early age Mr. Clarke was sent to Tasmania for his education, which he received at the school of Mr. R. W. Giblin at New Town, near Hobart. In 1838 he returned to New Zealand. His proficiency as a Maori scholar, his intimate knowledge of Maori customs, and his great influence with the natives procured him an appointment as one of the protectors of the aborigines. He was one of the witnesses to the celebrated Treaty of Waitangi, whereby the Maori chiefs ceded the North Island of New Zealand to the Queen. He was prominent in native matters during the administrations of Governors Hobson, Fitzroy, and Grey. He accompanied the surveying party of the New Zealand Company to the South Island, and he drew up the document whereby the Otago block, on which the city of Dunedin now stands, was conveyed to the Company by the Maori chiefs. On the outbreak of the Honi Heki war in 1844, he was employed by the Governor to negotiate with the friendly natives, and accomplished his mission with great tact and success. He accompanied Sir George Grey through the Heki war as interpreter, and saw a large amount of active service. In 1846 Mr. Clarke proceeded to England, and entered Highbury College (afterwards New College), London, to study for the ministry of the Congregational Church. In 1851 he returned once more to Hobart, and accepted the pastorate of a Congregational Church, of which he has now been the minister for forty years. For some years he edited a monthly paper entitled The Tasmanian Independent, and took a prominent part in the movement for the separation of Church and State in the colony, which ended in the abolition of State aid to religion in the year 1868. Mr. Clarke was a member of the Tasmanian Council of Education for nearly thirty years, and was several times elected its President. On the establishment of the University of Tasmania in 1890, he was elected a member of the Council and first Vice-Chancellor of the University. Besides a large amount of literary work, he is the author of "Sunday Lectures on the Epistle to the Hebrews" (Hobart, 1884). He married Martha, daughter of Henry Hopkins, J.P.